May 10, 2012

Struggling So On the Inside

Yesterday was difficult. It was one of a series of difficult days at my place of work. I am struggling to keep my attitude in check, and to not allow the stress of the job to get to me. Today, I succumbed to that stress, and called in sick. I woke up in the middle of the night with a massive migraine headache. I know that it was stress-generated. It wasn't food borne (I am sensitive to additives and they often trigger headaches) because other than having a salad for dinner, I didn't have anything out of the ordinary. It also wasn't for lack of sleep this week -- even though I was really tired yesterday. I fell asleep last night and I slept the entire evening (from 7:30 onward). Except for the headache in the night, I did seem to sleep well. When my alarm went off at 5:30, I rolled over and knew that I had to make the choice to get up and get ready for work or stay at home. I fed the cats, made my coffee, and took more Advil. I felt worse the more I was up, so I called in sick. Immediately after making that call, I felt better. I still have a headache, and I am sick to my stomach, but it is subsiding.

In all of my year working at Macy's, I was sick once. I called in sick when I fell in my kitchen and stress-fractured my femur. I took off two days, one calling in sick and the other at my bosses insistence that I take the next day off to rest. I did, and then I returned to work (limping and hobbling around) for the next three-four weeks. I worked hard at Macy's, and I endured their coaching me to open more accounts.

Generally, their coaching sessions and weekly status updates are a lot like UOPX. They are meant to help you achieve success, but they tend to weary you with a constant questioning of "why aren't you doing better?" It is this stress on perfecting the technique that really weighs me down. I know that my supervisor, directors, etc. don't see it that way. I am sure they don't -- they all seem like really nice people. I happen to be a perfectionist, so I am well-aware of what I can and cannot do. I mean it. I know if I am being lazy. I know if I am being a hard worker. I know the difference because I hold myself to an incredibly high standard. I don't expect it of others, but I self-regulate so that I always know when I am performing at my best.  It is the mark of any good athlete to know their limits, to push themselves when they know there is room to move higher, go faster, do better.

The problem is that I struggle with other people pushing me. I have never liked it. I have never been a willing participate to the group push! I see the reality, I know this is how it is done in business, but I never have bought into it or liked it. I will do my best for my own reasons. I will empower myself, no one needs to stand behind me to do it for me. I don't like it. I don't like the pressure. I don't like the attitude that says what you are doing is not good enough, you must do better.

My biggest issue is when you are doing really well, I mean really well, AND the attitude is still there telling you that you can do this well every month, all the time. This is not always the case, and to expect that is unrealistic considering the variables at work and play. I guess I am old-fashioned in my thinking. I remember that if you were doing a good job, your boss or manager would say that to you. If you were not doing a good job, your boss or manager would call you aside and tell you that as well. Then he or she would meet with you to help you do better. You know where you stood -- I need to do better or I will lose this job. I am good where I am at, so I need to maintain this level to keep my job.

In today's psychologically-driven business, it is about demonstrating behaviors that determine your success. These would be things like strong work ethic, honesty, integrity -- these are all behaviors I uphold naturally. I am all about doing my best, being honest in my dealings, etc. The fuzzy area comes in when these behaviors are use to judge your abilities as a worker. In truth, you cannot judge a person on these behaviors because they are internal and often do not show in quantifiable ways.

Sales numbers, on the other hand, can be charted. This shows performance, and performance can be judged. The problem is that many companies are trying to get away from performance driven reviews. They feel that it singles-out people, draws distinction, and makes employees uncomfortable. It separates the achievers from the non-achievers. Ok, so call me outdated, but truthfully, isn't that what life is all about?

In my place of work, my performance is down-played out on the outside, but on the inside, it is everything. Make your numbers every day, and you will do well. It is a round-robin of sorts because you are told to not focus on the numbers (we cannot supposedly due to the Government's regulation on higher education for for-profit companies), so we are coached on competencies. It would be far easier to be coached on performance because that is a measurable standard, kwim?

My performance is suffering due to a couple reasons:
  • lack of quality leads
  • overemphasis on the process of conversing (not my way, but the new way)
Every call that gets recorded is thoroughly reviewed to see if I am saying the right things. If I am not, then I get a note and more coaching on how to do it "right.'

If I am not making 100 dials or being on the phone for 3 hours *talking* each day, then I am told I am not working hard enough. I am misusing my day. It doesn't matter if I am clarifying my database, cleaning it up or making it viable. No, those things don't show up on a report, so they do not count.

I have decided that I can no longer live this way. I want to do a good job, to be a good employee, and I use my customer service skills every day to work with my students and build rapport with my peers. I simply am tired of the pressure to perform, and the constant coaching to say the right things. I am not excelling at my job because I focus on these details every day, worried that I will be called up, let go. The stress of losing my job weighs so heavy on my mind, even though I know that the Lord will not allow this to happen to me. I allow the stress of this job to keep me from doing the things I need to do -- like finishing my papers, graduating from school. In short, my priorities are all messed up.

Dear Lord,

I get it. I see that my priorities are not aligned with yours, and this is why I am feeling so badly. I realize that I am here to do your work, and no one else s. I am here to focus on the tasks that you assign, and not get fixated on anything anyone else asks me to do.  As I consider my options, I understand that I need to let go of the responsibility for the tasks associated with this job, and let them be. I work very hard, but if I try and do everything my manager wants, then I am placing him above you. I cannot do this. You are my King, you manage my days and my weeks. You are my Lord. I confess to you that I did this without really considering the affect on me and my abilities to do your work. I ask now that you forgive me for making this be all about the job, when it should have been all about you and your work. I ask now for you to show me what to do so that I can walk on, and continue to do what you want without getting sidetracked all the time. In Jesus Name I ask this now, Amen. So be it, thy will be done. Selah!

No comments: